Tuesday

22nd Aug 2017

TTIP investor court illegal, say German judges

  • EU trade commissioner Malmstrom will hold the next round of talks in Brussels on 22 February (Photo: European Commission)

German judges dealt a blow to EU-US free trade agreement talks after declaring a proposed arbitration court illegal.

The European Commission last September proposed setting up an investment tribunal court that would allow firms to challenge government decisions as part of its larger Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Critics says the new court, which is intended to replace a much loathed investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, will pressure governments into clawing back consumer protection rights and environmental standards in favour of corporate interest.

Earlier this week, the German Association of Magistrates, a Berlin-based judicial umbrella organisation, said it "sees neither a legal basis nor a need for such a court".

It says existing national courts are good enough and that efforts by the Commission to create a new court undermines jurisdictions across the Union.

"The German Magistrates Association sees no need for the establishment of a special court for investors," it states.

It says the new investor court would alter national court systems "and deprive courts of member states of their power."

The German magistrates also cast doubt on the independence of the judges in the new system as well as their appointment procedures.

Proponents, for their part, say the investment tribunal court is needed to both protect and attract foreign investment from potentially hostile governments or biased domestic courts.

'Democratic principles and public scrutiny'

The European Commission declined to comment but instead referred back to its previous stated positions.

EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who is heading the TTIP talks, last year said the new court would be "subject to democratic principles and public scrutiny".

The centre-right European People's Party and the centre-left Socialists & Democrats groups in the European Parliament spearheaded the new investor court last summer and backed the commission's proposal. Others, like the Greens, opposed the plan, noting businesses should not be allowed to file cases in private courts outside current legal systems.

The TTIP talks, which have been largely held in secret since 2013, aim to remove non-tariff barriers to trade.

The 12th round of talks will be held in Brussels on 22 February.

"We will only know closer to the date what topics will be discussed," said a commission spokesperson.

Airbnb too 'different' to pay EU tax

US home rental firm said its “model is unique” because most of the money stays in pockets of local people, as France and Germany prepare EU tax crackdown.

EU cautious with German diesel plan

The European Commission welcomed the German carmakers' pledge to update software in diesel cars, but is waiting for details on how emissions will be reduced.

News in Brief

  1. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  2. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  3. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  4. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week
  5. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  6. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  7. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  8. European Union returns to 2 percent growth

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference